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WEEK 48 2009

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First Post, 17 March 2002
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Two Years Ago, This Week, 2007
One Year Ago, This Week, 2008

Saturday 28 November 2009
Saturday - Book #79 was The Hundred Days by Patrick O'Brian. No surprise there, I guess.

Books this year:

#1 Accelerando
#2 The Surgeon's Mate*,
#3 Hanging Woman Creek,
#4 She*,
#5 True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole
#6 50 Acres and a Poodle*
#7 The Lord Protector's Daughter
#8 Simple Courage*
#9 All The Windwracked Stars.
#10 Escape from Hell
#11 Ayesha, The Return of She*
#12 Washington Schlepped Here*
#13 Crusade: Destroyermen, Book II
#14 Shakespeare: The World as a Stage
#15 The Precipice*,
#16 The Ionian Mission*
#17 Last Call,
#18 Maelstrom: Destroyermen Book III:
#19 Imager
#20 Allan Quatermain
#21 She and Allan
#22 Hammerfall
#23 Treasons' Harbor*
#24 Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
#25 Nova,
#26 The Jennifer Morgue
#27 Wisdoms' Daughter,
#28 The Ghost Map*
#29 The Far Side of the World*
#30 Captains Courageous
#31 Irish Lace
#32 The Reverse of the Medal*
 The Moonstone
#34 H.M.S. Beagle: The Story of Darwin's Ship*
#35 Alone Around the World,
#36 was On Stranger Tides
#37 The Long Voyage
#38 The Letter of Marque*
#39 The Biofab War
#40 The Battle for Terra Two
#41, The AI War (Biofab #3)
#42, Final Assault, (Biofab #4)
#43 Runner
#44: Orbit Unlimited
#45: The Enemy Stars
#46 There Will be Time
#47 Another Fine Myth
#48 Myth Conceptions.
#49 Prime Obsession
#50 The Thirteen Gun Salute*
#51 Zoe's Tale
#52 Brainiac
#53 A Fighting Chance: How We Rowed the Atlantic in 92 Days
#54 Myth Directions
#55 Mything Persons
#56 The Nutmeg of Consolation*
#57 Hit or Myth
#58 Little Myth Marker
#59 Myth Inc., In Action
#60 Phule's Company
#61 The Wine Dark Sea*
#62 The Time Traders
#63 The Last Theorem
#64 By Heresies Distressed
#65 The Commodore*
#66 Men-0-War: Life in Nelson's Navy
#67 Silence
#68 Galactic Derelict
#69 The Skylark of Space
#70 Skylark Three
#71 Skylark of Valeron
#72 Skylark DuQuesne
#73 Time and Again
#74 The Little World of Don Camillo
#75 Subspace Encounters
#76, The Yellow Admiral*
#77 Atlantis Endgame.
#78 The Risen Empire: Book One of Succession
#79 The Hundred Days

Friday 27 November 2009
Friday - working on the video/still thing. I was trying to use batch scripts and some free software, and if either Microsoft or the free software people were halfway competent it would have been a bridge. As it was, it was a pain, and took hours.

Vbscript, it turns out, has the same problem that old batch files had twenty five years ago. When you shell out to an external process the parent shell does not pause, and continues spitting out shell process until there are so many interfering with each other that the machine hangs.There are various workarounds - timer pauses and scripts that supposedly look for the end of the first child process before starting another - but none worked properly.

The free program, that I was shelling out to, was called Thumber and generated thumbnails of videos. But it wouldn't work at all until I found some extra files not included in the distro, then it would only work on one video at a time - I've about 2,500 to process. In theory it would work under Linux as well, but when I tried to install the package some basic core libraries were missing. They've been missing since at least May of this year, since I see complaints starting about then about that. Apparently the maintainer...isn't.

Free and worth every cent, as they say.

Anyway, a mixture of Vbscript, old *.bat file, and Thumber seems to be generating things OK. The idea is to extract a still to represent the feature or defect, so I generate a number of stills for each video, automatically. Then I'll pick the one I want to keep...

Chip and a house plant.

Thursday 26 November 2009

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day. My friends kindly invited me over for a nice thanksgiving feast. I was a bit blue & sad,  so it was nice to have some place to go.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Wednesday - I put in a days work and then headed up to Lancaster for the weekend. This is the first long weekend since the 4th of July, so I'm looking forward to it.

I am also, alas, taking work home. I need to fill out the still/video lists for the early inspection days - they are sparse or even non-existent in places. Also answer any database questions that may come up.

We also have a student doing some database work, so I spent most of the day with him, showing him the drudge work that needs doing. After fiddling about with Manifold for a while I found the SQL interface and he was competent in that.

An oddity: when I asked him what his favorite editor was (vi or Emacs) he looked blank, then said that he used development environments, Eclipse, among others. A guy with a masters who doesn't use a stand alone editor - weird. But he seemed like a knowledgeable guy - maybe that's how the schools turn them out now.

I dropped him off at the train station in Moorpark, then headed over the hill to Santa Paula where I picked up the little trailer that goes with the garden tractor. The gentleman I am getting it from is moving to a house in town and needed it gone now.

In a sad aside - his wife would feed the stray cats that appeared at their country home. They were up to twelve - all outdoor cats and many near wild - and can't take them to their new home in town. Hopefully there will be new & equally kindly tenants.

On the bright side, I recalled seeing a copy of The Hundred Days among the books I brought back from Dad's place. And indeed, there it was, along with Master & Commander and Post Captain. So I've started on The Hundred Days - and I note again, reading is so much quicker than an audio tape - a single evening and I'm halfway through it!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tuesday - only about ten hours at work.

I was looking at home for The Hundred Days on tape (this being the sequel to The Yellow Admiral) but couldn't find it. So I have another book on tape for this week, and will have to see if I can find The Hundred Days in hardback or audio at the library. After then after that there is only the twentieth book in the series: Blue at the Mizzen (which I do have on tape) and then Volume 21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey ( Patrick O'Brian passed away while writing it) which I do not have

I started this series in 2006, using them to ease long commutes, and they look to last (with a some self control upon my part) into early 2010.  I had read some of the books earlier, but not necessarily as they were written or, indeed, in order, and not on audio for the most part. A wonderful series, I'll probably read or listen to them again in a few years. Probably I should back up the cassettes onto MP3 or something - I believe that is still legal, as long as one owns the originals.

Monday 23 November 2009

Monday - back on the road, down to Camarillo. Something happened at the 210/I5/Ca14 interchange and it took me an hour to go about five miles. Well, so it goes. A long day at work, about eleven hours, but we got a lot done.

The son of my friends called in the evening to say that the software claimed to have finished the drive copy. I talked him through hooking the new drive up as "master" and it booted and worked well. So that's a victory!

The cassette player in the Explorer is on it's last legs. It's the OEM unit, with the non-working display endemic to that model year (cold solder joints, apparently) and the CD player failed a while ago (and never played MP3's or anything but standard audio CD's). The radio pulls in only a few stations, and now the tape player has lost power, not really having enough torque to player older (stickier) tapes. To complete the tale of woe and sorrow - in the last couple of weeks the the right side channel has gone out!

I looked briefly at replacement units on Sunday - no cassette player's to be had, of course. But you can have AUX input, and even USB input. Sony even has a unit with a built-in hands free bluetooth unit (but no front USB), so I'll probably get something soon. But apart from Best Buy there isn't much choice the the Antelope Valley these days. There are one or two expensive specialty shops, dealing in the 1000W amplifier systems that kids like to put in their little rat cars (lowered Civics and the like), but not much else.

I suppose I could look at Fry's down here in Ventura.

Book #78 was Scott Westerfields The Risen Empire: Book One of Succession. This was pretty good, space opera and a bit of Singularity mixed together. There is a sequel out there somewhere that I'll keep an eye out for.

Sunday 22 November_2009

Sunday - Weekend tasks are sometimes like wading in glue, one expends an extraordinary amount of time and effort to accomplish even the small things. Partly this is tiredness from being on the road so long, a lack of clearheadedness and planning; and I think partly the case that nothing is "in place" - that most efforts must start from scratch without even the small preparatory items that living in a domicile all week allow.

This day, even the traffic lights conspired against me - five stoplights at 7:30am between my house and the nearest Home Depot, all red. I was trying to watch a friends house and misplaced the key, so it was another trip across town. I needed some cash, but the first ATM was out, so I had to drive further for that, and so on.

I was upgrading the same friends computer, and brought over the wrong hard drive on Saturday - a nice SATA but their mobo is an old PATA system, so I had to go home and get that. Then the backup software to an external USB drive had to be installed, and the back run prior to drive migration run. And it ran excruciatingly slow, just under 1GB in the first 40 minutes. I left it to run overnight, then realized that I had forgotten the pets and had to go back and feed the fish. I didn't even start the drive migration until late this Sunday evening, then the Western Digital documentation didn't quite agree with the software, so there was some backing and filling before starting the actual migration. Partway in Windows wanted to run updates, so I pulled the ethernet cable - no reboots in the middle of a drive upgrade, I think!!

My friends returned home in the middle of all this, and rather than a nice upgraded system were presented with a computer opened up with it's guts exposed, unusable until the next day.

Well, so it goes. But it does get old after a while.

Book #77 was Andre Norton's Atlantis Endgame. This is a late sequel in the Time Traders series, and was co-written with someone named Sherwood Smith. But it is much in her earlier somewhat sparse style, so it wasn't just an older authors name grafted onto a book to sell it, or if it was then SS made a determined effort to write like Norton. This one takes place in the Thera of 1600 B.C., just before the explosion of said volcanic isle, with the aliens trying to prevent the explosion in order to change the time line to a less technological reality.

That said, it was a bit odd. The aforementioned villainous aliens of the first few books turn out to not be quite so villainous, and there is even a hook for a sequel, though I suspect there wasn't one written. The 'friendly' aliens turn out to have a fairly violent side themselves.

The complete series would seem to be, with both old and new:
  1. The Time Traders*
  2. Galactic Derelict*
  3. The Defiant Agents
  4. Key out of Time
  5. Firehand
  6. Echoes in Time
  7. Atlantis Endgame*

Picture of the Week
Cayucos Beach, July 2009

Photo Notes: Cayucos Beach rocks, July 2009

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